Technology / Technique
When Vilém Flusser applies the term Technik [technology or technique] to all the means through which humans establish themselves in their world, through which they transform nature into culture (Towards a Philosophy of Photography, 1984, p. 16), he is conceptualizing technology within the paradigm of manufacturing, or rather of the modern homo faber. All things manufactured in this way are antinatural, artificial. However, when Flusser makes the attributive statement that technology characterizes our genuinely human outlook on the world, this narrow understanding of technology is joined by a broad understanding of technology as a “verb” of human existence (Vom Subjekt zum Projekt, 1994, p. 136) linked to the ancient concept of τέχνη (techné). Thus the postindustrial world, in contrast to the industrial world, may be described as biotechnological rather than mechanical.
Flusser’s discussion of Technik alternates between the two classical concepts of the term. In addition, there is a specifically Flusserian (and rather dogmatic) definition of the purpose for which technology is, ultimately, always and only used: for forgetting death. Since we are destined by nature to die but find the fact unbearable, all our antinatural cunning serves the forgetting of this conditionality and this detail of our lives. Because his understanding of technology is linked back to anthropology in this way, Flusser has neither a narrow nor a broad understanding of technology in the usual sense, but rather a technicist understanding of culture. Culture is reduced to Technik in the spirit of homo faber’s means–end schema and fantasies of control.